Jul 25, 2022
The Monday Knee Jerk Reaction: AFL Round Nineteen
On a Monday, you want irrational reaction. You want emotion to trump reason.
What you really want is idiotic hysteria.
You've come to the right place.
Richmond (52) v Fremantle (52)
Despite the return of Ivan Soldo, Richmond have somehow dodged the bullet that is four premiership points once again.
Always innovating, this time the Tigers managed to not lose, while also not winning, a cunning ploy.
Not since the bible has someone put so much faith in people called Noah but unlike then, this time that faith seems misplaced.
Noah Balta and Noah Cumberland both had chances late to tip this close game into Richmond’s favour, but the Tigers are the Houdini of escaping wins.
If you didn’t barrack for either of these sides, this was an exciting game, but if you did, it was a nauseating, stressful, ruining what could have been a nice Friday night.
With Rory Lobb out for the Dockers, and Tom Lynch out for Richmond, fewer goals were kicked.
It’s these sorts of insights that make this column stand out from the rest. Not in a good way.
North Melbourne (75) v Hawthorn (121)
North Melbourne’s stunning winning streak has finally come to an end in one of the greatest upsets in not only the history of Australian Rules but global sport.
The Kangaroos had unleashed a reign of terror on the competition ever since Leigh Adams had ripped the head coach position from David Noble in a bloody coup.
Yet on Saturday, a plucky little team by the name of Hawthorn managed to stop the Kangaroos.
Jack Gunston, returning after a break following the death of his father, booted five and gave the Kangaroos trouble all day.
I began to suspect North were in trouble when the Hawks led 49-3 after the first quarter.
To me, that suggested something was up.
“North could be in trouble here,” I said to the man next to me in the pub, who promptly picked up his pot and went and sat down the other end of the bar for the rest of the day.
Sydney (118) v Adelaide (85)
I also watched this at the pub and amazingly, despite it being packed, the two seats on either side of me at the bar remained empty throughout.
Sydney were like someone told them they could leave the minute the job was done, so they booted 9.3 in the first quarter, then took the last three quarters off.
The Crows can take some pride in outscoring the Swans over the last three quarters, but in some ways, to do that and still lose by 33 points is top-notch comedy.
But that’s Adelaide, more interested in making us laugh than winning.
Sydney have been clever recently.
With the bottom half of the top eight looking shaky, they’ve decided to go on a winning streak.
It’s an interesting tactic, and I wonder if teams like St Kilda and Richmond will look back and wonder if that would have been a better approach.
Port Adelaide (94) v Geelong (106)
It would be fair to say the next three games were all fantastic, except none of them went the way I wanted, so instead of feeling like the game is in good shape, I sulked in the undignified way only a fully grown man can sulk.
Geelong seemed to have this one in hand, up 34 points at half-time, only for the Power to show they really should be a lot higher on the ladder than they currently are, if not for their own ineptitude.
The entire difference in the third quarter was Charlie Dixon who decided to play ruck and up forward, picking up 11 disposals, seven of them contested and kicking two goals.
He was just showing off really.
Geelong didn’t know what had hit them, but unlike Port, they don’t rely on one player having a superhuman quarter to win.
Oh, except Tom Atkins may argue about that who had 12 disposals in the fourth.
Yet he also had a well-functioning forward line, who, with depressing predictability, secured the win with the game on the line.
It really is a case for Geelong of can they do this in finals?
Cats fans have nothing to worry about, there’s no reason to think they can’t.
Brisbane (110) v Gold Coast (93)
I mean, this was a bonkers round. So many great, close games. It’s almost like claims the game is dying are just the crazy ramblings of a few bitter people.
There was a moment in the fourth quarter, when the Suns held a seven-point lead, that it seemed like the Gold Coast had a real chance at playing finals.
By the end of the quarter, those hopes were crushed, like that one time I thought someone had a romantic interest in me, only to learn moments later they were airport security,
When she said ‘excuse me sir would you please step over here’ it was to test for explosives and not to say my eyes had captivated her in a way she hadn’t thought possible.
Easy mistake to make I imagine.
Notably, the Suns have one of the rare Noah’s not at Richmond, Noah Anderson.
Did Australia go all in on Noahs about twenty years ago? Not since Mitchell has there been a name populate so many sporting lists.
I’ve heard the Tigers are willing to offer Shai Bolton and the next ten years of first-round draft picks to get Anderson under their ‘recruit everyone called Noah’ strategy.
Anderson provided excellent support for Touk Miller, who was ridiculously good again, and it took Jarrod Berry tagging him in the fourth to slow him down. But remember, tagging doesn’t win games. Except for all the times it does. Which is a lot.
While securing a top four spot is looking highly likely for the Lions, more importantly, Rhys Mathieson brought back his 'shotgun' celebration. Surely this round couldn’t get any more exciting.
Western Bulldogs (110) v Melbourne (100)
I wouldn’t call this game exciting, more devastating, but that’s an extremely biased view, what with my soul being severely bruised watching this.
But as far as Bulldogs fans or the neutral observer goes, this was an exciting game, with momentum swings, lots of scoring, one-on-one battles across the field, and a thrilling ending.
While the win keeps the Bulldogs finals hopes alive, it was the stellar performance of Mia Fevola’s former boyfriend that would have excited the Doggies fans.
He proved the key difference when it mattered.
As for the Dees, their once mighty defence looked about as coordinated as a grade six school play.
As the season has gone on, the Dees have looked, what I would term, ‘less good’. This is not what you want.
I want them to be ‘more better’.
Most experts agree, that the closer you get to the Grand Final, the better you want to play.
Carlton (90) v Greater Western Sydney (54)
Still reeling from Melbourne losing the night before, I didn’t enjoy Carlton winning the next day.
This is what happens to you when your team loses, you want other teams’ supporters to be miserable too.
Wishing misfortune on others may make me seem petty and small, but that’s only because I am petty and small.
Sometimes though I am happy for other supporters, but those moments are fleeting and usually go away pretty quickly if I ignore them.
The Giants hung around in the first half, doing just enough to seem like they were working hard, before sneaking off early, probably to the pub. It’s an approach I appreciate and am familiar with.
Carlton, with almost all the rest of the top eight involved in herculean matches, welcomed the chance to not have to battle until the death for the four points.
The Blues are going to play finals.
It’s been overshadowed by Collingwood’s charge up the ladder, like when covid took the focus off climate change.
But we should be worried about both.
Collingwood (80) v Essendon (76)
A game that is an instant classic, with comebacks, key goals, exciting young talent, vital tackles, soaring marks, and an after-the-siren match-winning goal from 40 meters out on an angle.
Even the taint of a Collingwood victory couldn’t spoil the beautiful bloom of this day.
To break this game down, would be like taking apart Michelangelo's David or picking apart Max Martin’s songbook.
It was more than the sum of its parts. A footballing hymn to the heavens.
This game was high art, something that either lifts your spirit or breaks it apart. Either way, you feel something. You know you are alive.
It should be shown in every art gallery in Australia on a loop.
If you bumped into someone who had never seen Australian Rules before, you could do a lot worse than to sit them down and say, ‘this is the greatest sport in the world, and your life is about to be improved immeasurably, because today, you will witness beauty in its purest form.”
And like all great art, at its core was a fatal flaw, that somebody had to lose when perfection would have seen both teams lose.
West Coast (62) v St Kilda (90)
Two things have driven St Kilda to a massive win over the Eagles, the first was Brett Ratten threatening to basically get rid of anyone who didn’t perform and the second was the fact they were playing the Eagles.
After the weekend of football we’d had, this was a bit like going from drinking top-shelf champagne to the mid-strength beer they serve at the footy.
Jack Steele led the Saints with 40 disposals, and Dan Butler booted a career-best five goals, but remember this was against West Coast so take these stats with a grain of salt.
West Coast to be fair looked better for a lot of the game. Tom Barrass finished with 26 disposals and eight marks and ruckman Bailey Williams had 23 hit-outs and nine clearances but remember this was against St Kilda so take these stats with a grain of salt.
The win keeps the Saints tantalisingly close to the top eight. Why must St Kilda toy with their fans’ emotions in such a cruel way?
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